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Chermoulah Sea Bass BBQ recipe

Chermoulah Sea Bass BBQ recipe

Here's my take on Ainsley Harriott's recipe. I took down the ingredients from part 1 of his 2-parter in Morocco which was on TV in April 2020. If you can, I recommend seeing the programme first to get a feel for the recipe and his preparation tips. I've not got his book from the programme so all quantities (for a large sea bass for 2 people) and directions are my own so good luck! I'm not a particularly good cook but I found this recipe really easy. Ainsley says you could use any round fish, so I guess grey mullet or mackerel would be another option and it could be baked in foil in the oven or indeed use fillets so there are multiple options to suit time of year and weather.

Marinade ingredients

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

pinch of saffron (which I don't think is essential if you haven't got it)

2 garlic cloves, diced

pinch of chilli flakes

pinch of cayenne pepper

juice of a lemon

chopped coriander (I used half a bunch including the stalks, and reserved the rest for the carrot salad)

pinch of salt and pepper

two or three glugs of olive oil

Whizz this all up in a blender to make a slightly wet paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference.

Slash each side of the fish deeply about 5 times depending on size to make grooves to work the marinade in (Tip - if anyone in the family is squeamish then now is the time to shed the head! Don't forget to snip off the fins too). You might find it easier to hold the fish with some kitchen roll whilst making the cuts. Massage paste into the cuts and all over the skin on both sides, and place any excess in the cavity. Leave to infuse for a while whilst you prepare the carrot salad. This was a new experience for us but we enjoyed it.

Carrot salad

Peel 2 large carrots

Using a speed peeler (the Y-shaped peeler with a peeler blade between the 2 forks of the Y) makes this easy work. Make long thin carrot ribbons. If you watch Ainsley you will see he rotates the carrot to keep a square shape but that might be a bit cheffy!

Now make a simple dressing out of a tsp each of cumin and nigella seeds (Mr google suggests sesame seeds or celery seeds or fenugreek are alternatives for the latter) plus a glug of olive oil and the remainder of the coriander chopped finely. Mix this all up and the mix with the carrot ribbons. This is then the bed on which you place the fish for serving.

BBQ instructions

Ainsley recommends about 10-12 minutes per side but this obviously depends on your BBQ set-up, but it was pretty much spot-on for my gas BBQ. I did 5 mins each side on high heat first then reduced to medium for the remaining time. Using a BBQ fish cage makes it really easy and then the fish doesn't break apart when you turn it.

When cooked, turn on to the bed of carrots, garnish with coriander and lemon and serve with sides of your choice, eg new potatoes or salad.


Keith Gawler
Apr 26

Edited: Apr 26